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  1. #1
    Deepurple is offline Member
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    Default It's Greek to me

    My appreciation if anyone could tell me what the meaning of the following sentence in blue, particularly the one underlined, is:

    "China's war with Vietnam 30 years ago is remembered as a bloody catalyst for the transformation of the People's Liberation Army into the modern fighting force it is today. The anniversary this week has also prompted comparisons between the remarkable development of both countries since then, and the conclusion that, for all its achievements, the mainland has something important to learn from the assertive "little brother" it once sought to put in its place."

    Thank you so much.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    The sentence you marked in blue means that when comparing how China and Vietnam have progressed in the 30 years since the war they had with each other, it seems that China, the big mainland country, could learn some important things from the little country near it (the "little brother"), which it at one time tried to push into a lower status as a nation.

    "To put into its place" is a phrase meaning to lower another person, or nation, into the lower social or power status that you believe fits its size, or education, or abilities.

    The idea is that China thought because Vietnam was so small, it should be quiet and dependent as a nation, and when Vietnam got militarily powerful, China fought with it to subdue it into a quiet small nation again. Since that war 30 years ago, it seems that Vietnam has been successful as a nation in ways that China could learn from.

    I hope this helps to make it more clear.

  3. #3
    Deepurple is offline Member
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    it once sought to put in its place
    In the above sentence, I want to know if the first pronoun stands for "China" and the second for "Vietnam".
    Thanks again to you, Titine24.

  4. #4
    Charlie Bernstein is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    it once sought to put in its place
    In the above sentence, I want to know if the first pronoun stands for "China" and the second for "Vietnam".
    Thanks again to you, Titine24.
    Oh! That's a much clearer question. Yes, you're exactly right.

    Pronouns like these are one of many difficult parts of English. They often confuse us, too. Good job translating!

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

  5. #5
    Deepurple is offline Member
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Oh! That's a much clearer question. Yes, you're exactly right.

    Pronouns like these are one of many difficult parts of English. They often confuse us, too. Good job translating!

    [I edit copy and have tutored college writing.]

  6. #6
    Monticello's Avatar
    Monticello is offline Member
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    My appreciation if anyone could tell me what the meaning of the following sentence in blue, particularly the one underlined, is:

    "China's war with Vietnam 30 years ago is remembered as a bloody catalyst for the transformation of the People's Liberation Army into the modern fighting force it is today. The anniversary this week has also prompted comparisons between the remarkable development of both countries since then, and the conclusion that, for all its achievements, the mainland has something important to learn from the assertive "little brother" it once sought to put in its place."

    Thank you so much.
    Hi Deepurple,

    "To put in one's place" is an idiom that means "to dominate" or "show who's boss."

    "... it once sought to put in its place" or "it once sought (that is, the past tense of the verb "to seek," i.e., to look for) to dominate." (~dominate meaning "to exercise power over")

    Thus, a rewording might read : " ...it once looked for ways to dominate."

    Here "...the mainland" refers to China and "the assertive 'little brother' ", Vietnam.
    Last edited by Monticello; 23-Feb-2009 at 04:00.

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    ... and "sought", if you didn't know already, is the irregular past of 'seek' - it [China] tried in various ways to make Vietnam 'know its place' [be subservient]. ("sought" is pronounced /sɔ:t/. )

    b

  8. #8
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Could it be said that China wanted to control/dominate Vietnam or would that change the original meaning a bit?

  9. #9
    Monticello's Avatar
    Monticello is offline Member
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    ... and "sought", if you didn't know already, is the irregular past of 'seek' - it [China] tried in various ways to make Vietnam 'know its place' [be subservient]. ("sought" is pronounced /sɔ:t/. )

    b
    "...is the irregular past of 'seek' "

    - also, may I add, the past participle of "seek". Examples:
    (irregular) past: I sought an answer to the question.
    past participle: The panel of experts has sought solutions to this vexing problem.

  10. #10
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: It's Greek to me

    Quote Originally Posted by bepina View Post
    Could it be said that China wanted to control/dominate Vietnam or would that change the original meaning a bit?
    It intensifies the meaning a bit too much. When you 'put someone in their place' you just make sure they 'know their place' [a position of subservience]. So the dominant one doesn't have to assert its dominance - a bit like a school bully: he doesn't have to 'throw his weight around' a lot, because people 'know their place'.

    b

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